Red Rock Canyon - Fossils - Saber-toothed Cat | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles


Red Rock Canyon Saber-toothed Cat

Saber-toothed Cat
Saber-toothed cats had two cheek teeth, together with the upper teeth, form a scissor-like blade suitable for cutting meat. The species found from the Dove Spring Formation, Barbourofelis whitfordi, is one of the first within the non-feline saber cat lineage to immigrate into North America from Asia. The Red Rock Canyon species ultimately gave rise to the more powerful Barbourofelis fricki (below), which became extinct in the late Miocene (about 9-7 million years ago).

In April 2008 more than a dozen teeth of the very rare extinct false sabertooth cat Barbourofelis whitfordi were discovered on a Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County research collecting trip by museum volunteer Kamaron Sardar.  The new material includes the first upper premolars and saber of the species ever found.  The new false sabertooth cat material from Red Rock Canyon is one of the most remarkable and significant discoveries from the Dove Spring Formation in decades.  A study of this very imporatnt specimen was undertaken by Jack Tseng, Gary Takeuchi, and Xiaoming Wang and the results were published in January 2010 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Tseng, Z. J., G. T. Takeuchi, and X. Wang. 2010. Discovery of the Upper Dentition of Barbaurofelis whitfordi (Nimravidae, Carnivora) and an Evaluation of the Genus in California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontlogy 30(1):244-254.
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Saber of a saber-toothed cat, Barbourofelis whitfordi, from Red Rock Canyon. (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County specimen number LACM 140850).

Barbourofelis fricki from western Nebraska. Notice the more expanded flange on the lower jaw, an advanced feature of this terminal species. (Adopted from Schultz, Schultz, Martin, 1970, figures 2 & 5).

Did you know?
The fossils of prehistoric animals during the past 7-12 million years ago can be found entombed in the sediments, including extinct elephants, rhinos, three-toed horses, giraffe-like camels, saber-toothed cats, and bone-crushing dogs. There are also fascinating small creatures such as ancestral skunks, alligator lizards, rodents and shrews.